Signing Justin Fields ultimately didn’t work out for Georgia, if anything, the signing of the five-star prospect arguably turned out to be more of a distraction than anything else, but according to Kirby Smart, he doesn’t plan to change his recruiting strategy after losing his second five-star quarterback prospect in as many seasons.
While Fields did not last an entire year in Athens, bringing in another five-star signal caller clearly motivated Jake Fromm to continue to develop his game and led to the sophomore’s best season as a Bulldog last fall. Outside of the trip to LSU, Fromm was not only consistent last season, but he also caught fire down the stretch and outplayed then Heisman Trophy favorite Tua Tagovailoa in the 2018 SEC Championship Game.
When Fields turned down the likes of Florida, Florida State and Penn State to sign with Georgia, many questioned why such a talented player would sign on at a school with a player of Fromm’s caliber already entrenched as the starting quarterback. While those doubters proved to be right in the end, Smart recently stated that he had no regrets recruiting Fields and suggested he will continue to target and sign the best players for his Georgia program moving forward — regardless of how things turned out with Fields.
“No regrets,” Smart said according to Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports. “I would go recruit the best player [again].”
Smart also offered up his thoughts on college football’s new offseason device, the NCAA transfer portal. The Georgia coach claimed he supports players gaining more freedom and will support their decisions (proving his words are more than lip service, the Bulldogs did just this when Fields requested a transfer to Ohio State), he is concerned that players are too eager to enter the transfer portal when adversity strikes.
“My biggest problem with the portal is that it gives kids an easy way out,” Smart added. “I know the devil’s advocate of players’ rights and they should be able to go wherever they want to go. But I’m telling you, no normal parent would say, ‘At the first sign of trouble, I want my son to run.'”
The Georgia coach also noted that after speaking to lower level college coaches, many of them plan on signing fewer high school prospects in the future in order to recruit the many Power 5 players that are entering the transfer portal and can’t find landing spots at a Power 5 school — which is something that is happening frequently this offseason. According to 247Sports’ transfer portal database, 240 of the 450 Power 5 players in the portal remain uncommitted entering the summer.
This issue isn’t one that’s going away anytime soon but until proven another strategy works better, Smart refuses to deviate from what he knows best — recruiting the best prospects each and every recruiting cycle. That’s a luxury schools like Georgia can afford but it remains to be seen how schools a notch below UGA’s class will react to the growing transfer movement in the college football.